Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Friday, 29 July 2016

More Cockatoo Boxes for Stoneville

After last year's successful breeding by Ngolyenoks (Carnaby's Cockatoos) in one of the artificial nest-boxes installed after the 2014 bushfires, the Mundaring Shire has shown great enthusiasm to continue supporting the species' conservation with the provision of three more boxes, in the hope that this will increase the number of pairs of cockatoos that breed in this reserve. Two additional nest-boxes were donated by local singer-songwriter Storme, who conducted a crowdfund for cockatoo nest-boxes several years ago. Last week I had the pleasure of installing all five boxes, and it was great to be back in local bushland and admire the continuing post-fire regrowth, which, as you can see above, is looking very lush after a decent rainy start to the year!

Spot the Simmo! Climbing a tall, burned Marri to set up ropes for nest-box installation.

The installations had me hanging in some wonderful Jarrah and Marri trees, which were tall and healthy but still very young. In terms of habitat value, the addition of these boxes ages their host trees significantly - it would take about 500 years for the Jarrah tree below to form a hollow the same size as the box attached to it. This tree is probably only about 80 years old.

A Jarrah hardwood entrance matches the red-brown bark of the host tree.

All my nest-boxes designed for Black Cockatoos include sturdy sacrificial chewing-blocks placed around the vertical entrance, as well as one or two hardwood posts placed inside. This material is used by the cockatoos to tear off 'cigar-shaped' splinters of wood, which are dropped on the nest-hollow chamber, creating a well-drained substrate on which eggs are laid. Other cockatoo nest-box designs (e.g. those made from PVC pipe) use a simple wire ladder, made from 40mm weld-mesh and measuring about 150mm wide. Having found many examples of non-target species (e.g. ducks, smaller parrots and bats) becoming trapped inside these boxes and killed (the mesh isn't fine enough to allow them sufficient grip to climb out), I try to ensure my wooden boxes are fitted on at least three sides with a wire mesh ladder with squares no larger than 20mm, to ensure all fauna can enter and exit the boxes safely.

Looking down inside one of the newly installed boxes. Note the mesh ladder on 3 sides.

After spending the past five weeks wandering the Scottish highlands and climbing to eagle eyries, it felt wonderful and very healing to be back in the canopy in the Perth Hills again. The cockatoo breeding season is fast approaching so it will be exciting to monitor these new nest boxes later in the year and find out whether more beautiful Ngolyenoks take up residence!

The view from the canopy always gives a wonderful perspective on the bush... and my roof rack!

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